Intense horror movies aren’t always the first thing on everyone’s watch list. Maybe you want and easy night. Maybe you just want to ease yourself into the genre. Or maybe your friend is making you watch a horror movie with them, and all you want to say “Hey! Let’s watch this instead! It has horror, but I think I handle it”. Then this is your list.
This is a list for those looking for a movie with a side of horror, instead of a horror movie. Each of these have horror elements, some jump scares and creepy villains, but they shouldn’t leave you staring unblinkingly at the bedroom door in the middle of the night. Oh, and expect cult classics galore in this list.
1. Clue (1985)
Clue is probably the ultimate cult classic of horror movies. Based on the American board game of the same name (Cluedo if your British), Clue follows the plot of six strangers having a fancy dinner in an old mansion house. There’s a butler, a mystery and even a murder.
When it was originally shown in the theatres, there were even three different endings shown, making it feel more like an interactive game than your everyday movie viewing. Eager fans would make sure they saw all three ending in the cinemas.
Older movies are always a good place to start if you want a horror that isn’t too terrifying. Much of the special effects are outdated which, though I’m sure it was scary when it first came out, makes it easier for an audience to identify the movie as ‘not real’.
2. Beetlejuice (1988)
Cult Classic number 2. Beetlejuice combines all the horror of haunted houses and demonic beings and turns it into a weird and wonderful comedy. Everyone has to watch the dinner scene with the shrimp hands at least once in their life time.
There’s also a teeny tiny Winona Ryder involved for any Stanger Things fans who want to see more of Joyce Byers kicking supernatural monster butt.
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
I flip a coin every year to decide whether I should watch this film on Halloween or Christmas. It works well with both holidays! Skeleton Jack has become an absolute icon since this movie was released with people sporting T-shirts, bags, and even tattoos of his and Sally’s faces.
It’s a musical, and a Claymation cartoon, which probably helps add to the not-so-scary element. But beyond that, there is a definite Halloween theme, all sorts of creepy characters and freaky villain. Yes. I was one of the kids who was scared of Oogie-Boogie. He’s freaky! And made of bugs…gross.
4. Happy Death Day (2017)
The Newest horror edition on this list has spiked with fame and success that even granted it a very quick released sequel the following year. Imagine Ground Hog Day, but instead of it being every time the day finishes, things restart every time you die. Yikes.
Pleasing many film fans, this movie has more than just references to Ground Hog Day. Tree is tasked with trying to find the identity of her killer (in a plot line very similar to the likes of Scream) in order to break her murder cycle in this horror-mystery mix.
5. The Others (2001)
And eerie haunted house horror flick with a twist. This is probably the ‘scariest’ horror movie on this list, without actually being all that scary. Sure, there are a fair few jump scares and creepy ghostly happenings, but otherwise it’s pretty tame. The key here is a focus on mystery and a surprising ending (and a stellar performance from leading lady Nicole Kidman).
6. Cabin In The Woods (2011)
Making fun of clichés in horror movies and taking to a new extreme. That’s the real title of this movie. I’m kidding, but it’s a good enough description. In classic Evil Dead fashion, a bunch of teens go to a creepy cabin in the middle of the woods and get sucked into a cornucopia of trope-filled horror movie gore.
Avid horror movie fans will re-watch this film over and over trying to find all the hidden references and tropes from other horror movies. It’s fun and action filled with a not-so-serious plot line you can enjoy.
7. Scream (1996)
A movie that completely re-invented the horror movie genre. Happy Death Day? Cabin in the Woods? These movies wouldn’t exist without Scream. Scream is considered the first real horror/comedy blend that took common horror movie tropes and made fun of them.
Not to mention it gets bonus points for having a great heroine to root for. It’s culty and super easy to watch.
8. Zombieland (2009)
When people talk about the rules for surviving in horror movies, this film wrote the list. The plot is simple, zombie apocalypse has broken out and it’s every man for himself- unless you make friends along the way, of course.
There re a few jump scares, and lots of gore where the zombies are concerned. But there’s no major character deaths, and more focus on character relationships and experiences over horror.
9. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
The first of The Cornetto Trilogy. Be sure to have one when you’re watching this. It became an icon among horror movies in Britain and beyond for its witty charm and horror-not-horror style. There’s the flare of British comedy in it that not a lot of other horror movies have with an easy to follow storyline and a stellar cast of characters.
10. Jennifer’s Body (2009)
If we’re talking culty horror movies, Jennifer’s Body might just be the cultiest of all. Megan Fox stars as Jennifer, a real ‘man eater’ if you know what I mean. She’s the most popular girl in school who unwillingly becomes a host for a succubus, and while it’s got a few jump scares here and there, the movie is mostly a harmless barrel of laughs about a high school prom.